Photography by Trevor Smith

Tomoko Ogura

Brand Director, Vince

| Boerum Hill

Some of us define ourselves as visual creatures while others find sense in numbers, but what happens to those who fall on both sides of the coin? Well, if you’re Tomoko Ogura, you graduate  from Dartmouth with an economics degree, then strap on your stilettos as you climb an entirely different, high-powered ladder: fashion. Granted, it’s less of a jump for a gal whose appreciated quality design since childhood (wouldn’t you have if you were raised in Japan?!), but still…  Landing a job straight out of school in the buying department at Barneys New York, Ogura rose from assistant to Senior Fashion Director in her decade-plus tenure. Of course, looking back, the directorial post seems near tailor-made for the business-savvy, visually-motivated boss lady: the role had Ogura overseeing the retailer’s sought-after inventory, plus developing its designer collaborations and in-house fashion line. When it came time for the next chapter, she didn’t have to look far: Vince, a long-time Barneys brand, offered her a gig as Brand Director. Now in charge of the contemporary label’s marketing, public relations and creative teams, Ogura is essentially shaping its entire visual footprint… we’d say it sounds like she has big shoes to fill, but, somehow, we think she has just the pair. Here, she sits down with CITIPHILE to reveal her little black book on NYC.

NEIGHBORHOOD STANDBY: Sottocasa (MAP IT, x)— I love pizza and this place is a few steps away from my apartment. The Reginella (buffalo mozzarella, cherry tomatoes and basil) is my go-to dish— simple & consistent.

COFFEE OR TEA: Coffee from Caffe Vita (MAP IT, x)… just try it.

ALL-TIME FAVORITE RESTAURANT: Shigure (MAP IT, BOOK ITx), a Japanese, izakaya-style place– the karaage, salmon rice pot and cold soba noodles are my favorite dishes.

COCKTAIL DE LA NUIT: My drink of choice is wine— natural wine more recently. Ten Bells (MAP IT, x) has a great selection and it’s a place to discover unique tastes; its owners, Sev and Nick are lovely. They offer a $1 oyster happy hour every day too. In my neighborhood, June Bar (MAP IT, x) has an interesting wine list as well.

WHERE TO BRING OUT-OF-TOWNERS: I’d take them on a long walk through Brooklyn, ending at Brooklyn Bridge Park (x).

BEST BRUNCH: A favorite weekend brunch meal is a sandwich made with smoked fish from Shelsky’s (MAP IT, x) and bagels from Smith Street Bagels (MAP IT, x).

BEST PEOPLE WATCHING: The subway when the train is delayed.

HEALTHY STAPLE: Two Hands (MAP IT, x) for an acai bowl to go. (But, I only go on weekends— I wish there were a Two Hands closer to my office!)

GUILTY PLEASURE: Pizza at Lucali (MAP IT, x).

NY’S BEST-KEPT SECRET: The pizza (served only during lunch hours) at Arcade Bakery (MAP IT, x).


REGULAR AT: Shigure— I go 2-4 times a week because I’m often homesick and it’s place that I can rely on for a taste of Japan and a warm welcome. On Fridays and Saturdays starting at 1 am, they switch out the menu to a special one with dishes contributed by some of the wait and kitchen staff.

GO-TO GETAWAY: I love to explore new places, but when I need a solo getaway, I find myself going back to Palm Springs. If you’re looking for peace and quiet, The Sparrow’s Lodge (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x) is perfect.

CLOSET CHECK: Comfort is an integral part of my style. I believe in pieces that you’ll have forever— like the cashmere hoodies I’ve collected since I started at Vince. I’m also inspired by local craftsmanship and like to diversify my closet with pieces that I find through travel. For example, I continue to follow Spencer Vladimir— they are master knitters that make beautiful, one-of-a-kind pieces; the artisanal hand is extraordinary.

BEST HOME DÉCOR: My interior style is unplanned. I collect the pieces I’m drawn to and find a place for them. In terms of shops, I like BDDW (MAP IT, x) to be inspired and Greenhouse & Co (MAP IT, x) in the neighborhood.

BEST HOST/HOSTESS GIFTS: Primary Essentials (MAP IT, x).

GIFTS FOR HIM: Frankly Wines (MAP IT, x).

BEAUTY BLACK BOOK: Chuck Olson at Ludlow Blunt (MAP IT, x)— he was there for my first short haircut at Arrojo a decade ago and I’ve stuck with him ever since.

FIT PICK: I started taking tennis lessons last year at the courts on Congress Street in Brooklyn (MAP IT, x). It’s a refreshing way to start the day outside with a beautiful view of the lower Manhattan skyline.

ULTIMATE NY MOMENT: In 2011, after the Great East Japan earthquake, I helped organize a fundraiser. I’ll always remember how the NYC community I know (through the fashion industry and through friends, and friends of friends) came together so quickly, efficiently and passionately to raise funds for my home country 7,000 miles away. CP

Tomoko’s New York

From L to R. First Row: Coffee from Caffe Vita; Greenhouse & Co; Knits from Spencer Vladimir; Pizza from Sottocasa. Second Row: Vince sweaters; Acai bowl from Two Hands; Primary Essentials; June Bar.


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